We teach the National Curriculum, supported by a clear skills and knowledge progression. This ensures that skills and knowledge are built on year by year and sequenced appropriately to maximise learning for all children. We aim to develop children’s ability to produce well-structured, detailed writing in which the meaning is made clear and which engages the interest of the audience / reader. We ensure the children have a secure knowledge of grammar and spelling as this is interwoven throughout our Literacy sessions as well as being taught in discrete lessons. Teachers clearly model writing skills and document the learning journey through consistent working walls; guided writing sessions are used to target specific needs of both groups and individuals. Children have opportunities to write at length, in extended, independent writing sessions – applying their taught skills to an unsupported piece of writing.
Every year group from follows the Oak Tree Model of writing. This is a sequence of lessons (which usually lasts about 3 weeks) ensuring that they have age-appropriate coverage, meeting the learning goals of each year group in speaking and listening skills, composition, handwriting, spelling, punctuation, grammar and editing.
Developing learners to be confident speakers and listeners in Standard English provides them with the necessary foundations to develop their flair for writing and their individual voices. We use DEAL activities across the school to engage the children and develop their creativity not only in Literacy, but also across the curriculum. Many of these activities help children to put themselves in the text and become more confident writers. Some of the activities children really enjoy include: debating an idea using persuasive language; interviewing a ‘character’ from a novel and using intonation, expression and volume to perform their own pieces of choral poetry.
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Throughout the Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, we teach writing through a text-based approach, which allows us to meet the needs of the children that we are teaching – through choosing a text that will engage, inspire and motivate. As well as reading a wide variety of genres, children are given frequent opportunities to develop their skills in writing in different genres. Hooks are used at the beginning of every Literacy genre to engage, inspire and ‘hook’ the children into the new learning. The hooks also tap into children’s creativity and provide a practical context for them to explore a new text and its genre.
Stamina for writing is developed through the Literacy Unit with a weekly opportunity for all children to write at length, either independently or with a more structured approach through modelled or shared writing. Prior to the writing session, children plan their writing in note form, clearly outlining what they will cover and organising their work appropriately. Editing writing is taught throughout Key Stage 1 and 2 with children encouraged to proofread, up-level and make revisions to their spelling, punctuation and grammar as well as to improve their use of vocabulary and the way that their writing reads or flows. Children in Year 2-6 use a purple ‘polish pen’ to make their editing clear. Each term, children publish a piece of writing which is displayed in their special writing book. Pupils are taught discrete punctuation and grammar skills, appropriate to their year group, within our text-based approach to planning, allowing opportunities to identify, practice and consolidate grammatical understanding, whilst also being immersed in a text. Children then apply the grammar and punctuation skills that they have learnt in their extended pieces of writing.
Letter formation and handwriting is taught throughout the school, from mark making to continuous cursive. Children are encouraged to use the correct pencil grip and adaptations are provided to ensure to support the development of fine motor skills where needed.
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Termly spelling, punctuation and grammar tests will be delivered for children to apply their learning. This assesses what the children can do at that point within the year and identifies the next steps with their learning. Writing is assessed through Teacher Assessment on a termly basis. Teachers use the end of year targets, which include: composition, spellings handwriting, grammar and punctuation to see how children are progressing.
Spelling is taught regularly in focused sessions within each class. Learning to recognise the high frequency words on sight is crucial in developing fluency and accuracy in reading and then writing. High frequency words are the words that appear most often in printed materials. Some of the high frequency words are referred to as ‘tricky words’, as the children are unable to use their phonic knowledge to decode every part of the word. Once children are confident in reading and spelling high frequency words, they are taught spelling rules and are encouraged to apply these rules in their writing. Class teachers use spelling schemes to support with the teaching of the different spelling rules and this is then used as homework. Spellings are sent home in each year group as part of the children’s homework; the pupils are then tested on these words in their weekly spelling tests.
Children are exposed to high quality examples of punctuation and grammar in the context of their Literacy genre and are always provided with the opportunity to apply this learning into their own writing, either through their structured or independent writing, through the editing process or through cross-curricular links in other topics. Boosting vocabulary and exposing children to new, ambitious and wide-ranging words is an important part of the curriculum. Throughout spelling sessions, children are exposed to a variety of spelling rules, learning their morphology and etymology. Within their topic curriculum, children are provided with topic word mats and create glossaries of key vocabulary in the back of their topic books. They will spend time exploring the meaning of words, its usage and its application throughout their learning in wider curriculum subjects.
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